The Federal Council has decided to bring the revised Swiss Citizenship Act and the respective regulation into force on 1 January 2018. The new law is set to unify and harmonise naturalisation practices across the Cantons. The most important innovation is that a foreign national may now file an application for naturalisation after ten years' residence in Switzerland. This is a change from the previous minimum residence qualification period in Switzerland of twelve years. In return, the naturalisation is now only possible for foreigners who are in possession of a C-residence permit (C-Permit). There has also been a tightening up of various aspects of the naturalisation criteria. In a number of specific areas, the Cantons are still able to make higher demands as part of the naturalisation process. The new law will only be applicable to applications for naturalisation filed after 1 January 2018. For applications filed before this date, the existing law is still applicable.
On 20 June 2014 the Swiss Parliament approved the revised Swiss Citizenship Act. In the meantime, the Federal Council drew up the relevant regulation. The regulation cements the decisive criteria set to demonstrate integration before naturalisation can take place as well as the proceedings for naturalisation at a federal level. The judicial competence to decide over the candidate's naturalisation still lies with the Cantons.
Requirement to have a C-residence permit (C-Permit)
The new law provides that the only persons qualifying for naturalisation will be those in possession of a C-residence permit (C-Permit). Up until now, it had been possible to file an application for naturalisation for persons who fulfilled the requirements of residence, but who were not in possession of the C-Permit, but holding, for example, a B-residence permit (B-Permit).
According to the new law, the minimum residence requirement for naturalisation is lowered to ten years. The years between the ages of eight and eighteen will count as double.
In the future, only the years holding a B-Permit or a C-Permit will count. Any years with a short-term L-residence permit (L-Permit) will no longer support a naturalisation application.
Toughening of the integration criteria
The main focus of the change in legislation is on integration. The new law will strengthen integration criteria. A foreign person applying for naturalisation will only gain recognition as "integrated" when he/she respects the...